04 February 2009
The CLT acquires land through purchase or donation with an intention to retain title in perpetuity, thus removing the land from the speculative market. Appropriate uses for the land are determined in a process comparable to public planning or zoning processes, and the land is then leased to individuals, families, cooperatives, community organizations, businesses, or for public purposes. Normally, the CLT offers lifetime or long-term leases which may be transferred to the leaseholder’s heirs if they wish to continue the use of the land.
Leaseholders must use the land in an environmentally and socially responsible manner, but the CLT may not interfere in their personal beliefs, associations, or activities.
If leaseholders leave the land and terminate the lease, they may sell or remove the improvements which they own. Typically, the CLT retains a first option to buy the improvements at the owner’s original invested cost, often adjusted for inflation, depreciation, and damage during the ownership period. This property can then be sold to the next leaseholder. Thus, the first leaseholder is guaranteed equity in the improvements, and the succeeding leaseholder is able to by the improvements at a fair price.
No seller will profit from unearned increases in market value, and no buyer will be priced out of the market by such increases. Any increase in value that is not due to a leaseholder’s efforts will remain with the CLT.
Security: A long term lease providing for the permanent affordability of the housing. Individual homeowners in the CLT have security in their long term lease and title to their home, they won’t be forced out by a landlord who can make more money renting to others. By joining together CLT members assure themselves of more support from others and greater access to financing than as individuals. In times of hardship the CLT may be able to reduce its lese fees because of its broader financial base.
Earned Equity: Individual home owners in the CLT can generate equity in their home. For those with sufficient financial resources to purchase land and housing, becoming a CLT leaseholder may represent an economic sacrifice. As leaseholders, they will build equity only through their own investments in improvements, not through increases in market value due to other factors. Such people may choose to become CLT leaseholders because of lower financial costs required through the CLT, or for the sake of the community of support and friendship which it offers, or out of concern for providing affordable properties within the community for future use by their children, friends, and other.
Community Access: Access is limited by high rates of absentee ownership, or high rates of ownership by city governments and redevelopment agencies, and is made unavailable or unaffordable for neighborhood residents.
As the CLT acquires land it provides secure access to the land for individuals within the community - particularly those who have previously been denied the access to and benefits of land.Community Equity: The community’s land and resources is the basic element of its economy, the original “commonwealth.” Yet present patterns of landownership and transfer often render land and their resources unavailable to the communities that occupy them. In these situations the economic benefits of community development are continually captured by a privileged few or drained away by outside interests. The community is deprived of its equity.
The community’s claim to this equity rests on two principles: that the inherent value of the land is not of human creation and thus cannot rightfully be regarded as personal income for any individual, and that the appreciated value of the land (as opposed to the value of improvements made to the land) is the result of the activity and efforts of individuals, organizations, and public agencies throughout the community and economic forces outside the community. By holding land permanently in trust, a CLT preserves for the community both the original value and any value that is added to it by the efforts of the community or larger economic forces. Individuals may not claim what belongs to the community as a whole.
CLTs offer a means of preserving community equity. Any increase in value is retained and residents need not be displaced by real estate market forces.Community Legacy: Using its ownership of the land and its power to grant or withhold leases, the CLT exercises effective community control over development. Specific land use plans can be formulated through democratic procedures and with expert advice where needed. The stability and character of established neighborhoods can be protected. Zoning boards and planning commissions have made efforts to evaluate and regulate development in their own communities. But in many instances, the initiative is in the hands of the owner/developer; land use hearings take on the character of adversarial proceedings, and the community lacks a firm economic base from which to offer or implement alternatives. CLTs should work in partnership with local government for the good of the community.
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